Q: My son and I were wondering what is the best way to hang a 25-pound punching bag from a ceiling? When we tried to hang the bag, the hole in the plaster started getting larger and larger. Finally, the hole in the stud in the ceiling also got too big and the bag fell down.
A: It seems that you embedded the hanger into a ceiling joist, but with the side-to-side motion of the bag, the fastener started to work its way loose, taking out some plaster as it moved.
You’re on the right track by trying to hang the bag from a ceiling joist. Joists are the framing members in the ceiling that the plaster or drywall is attached to. They must be strong enough to carry the weight, called load, of the ceiling, and, if necessary, the floor above. A 25-pound punching bag should not create a problem with the load on a particular joist – but it might.
If you want to try this route again, use a longer, thicker hanger, such as a 4- to 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch eye hook. Be sure to screw it into the center of the joist. Pre-drill a 3/8-inch pilot hole so you don’t split the joist. Ceiling joists are usually 1½ to 2 inches thick, so it’s easy to miss the center. Still, even with this beefier approach, we can’t guarantee that the hook won’t work its way loose again.
We think a better way to hang the bag is from a piece of 1/4-inch flat iron that spans two joists and is lag-bolted into the ceiling. To do the job you’ll need a 30-inch piece of 1/4-inch iron about 4 inches wide, two 1/2-inch lag bolts with washers, and an eye bolt with nuts, washers and lock washers. Bolts, nuts and washers are available at any hardware store. The bar will be more of a challenge, but a foundry or a company that manufactures steel beams should be able to help. The cost should be less than $15.
To install the steel bar, locate two joists where you want to put the bag. Drill a hole in either end of the bar to match the distance between the center of two joists and big enough to insert the lag bolts. Also drill a hole in the center of the bar to attach the eye hook. Thread a nut all the way down to the bottom of the threads on the hook, follow with a washer and lock washer. Then insert the eye hook through the bar, place another lock washer against the bar and tighten another nut against the lock washer. This will lock the hook in place.
To install the bar on the ceiling, mark and pre-drill the holes in the joists, insert the lag bolts through the bar and screw them tightly into the joists. When pre-drilling, make sure the hole you drill into the joist is smaller than the diameter of the bolt. Use a 3/8-inch drill bit for a 1/2- inch bolt.
Also, you will have to make an indentation in the plaster where the eye bolt meets the ceiling. Put the bar in place, give it a good whack with a hammer to mark the spot, and ream out a large enough hole so that the bar fits flush with the ceiling. Hang the bag from the hook.
If you don’t want to search for a piece of iron, you can substitute wood. If you do that, make sure that it’s at least 1 1/2 inches thick. Use four lag bolts instead of two to attach the wood to the ceiling.
An added bonus, one we’re sure Mom will appreciate, is that with this type of installation, damage to the ceiling should be minimal and easily repairable should you want to remove the bag.
If your punching bag didn’t come with a swivel, look into getting one. Sold by boxing equipment manufacturers or in sporting goods stores, a swivel consists of a flat piece of steel on top and a rotating steel ball with a hook on the bottom. It should cost about $15. Attach the flat part to the ceiling and hang the bag from the rotating steel ball. The steel ball allows the punching bag to move freely in any direction and reduces the pressure on the ceiling joist.
If you want to see a picture of a swivel, go to www.everlast.com and click on “boxing equipment.”
And Mark, how about sending us some ringside tickets for your first bout?
Bill and Kevin Burnett will attempt to answer your questions, although the volume of e-mail sometimes makes this impossible. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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